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Having Bad Reputation is Mallory Carson's dream come true. The bar represents something of her very own. And thanks to her, it's the trendiest spot in town. At first, she and the other female bartenders dancing atop the bar counter was a one-off, a joke, but when it causes carloads of patrons to show up, Mallory sees the potential in terms of large dollar signs. She thinks all lights are flashing green and all signs read Go. Little does she know about the guy who's got his eye ...
Having Bad Reputation is Mallory Carson's dream come true. The bar represents something of her very own. And thanks to her, it's the trendiest spot in town. At first, she and the other female bartenders dancing atop the bar counter was a one-off, a joke, but when it causes carloads of patrons to show up, Mallory sees the potential in terms of large dollar signs. She thinks all lights are flashing green and all signs read Go. Little does she know about the guy who's got his eye on her....
Shay O'Connor has his own quiet Irish pub nearby, unlike Mallory's roaring place. He's meant to be looking out for Mallory and her new business adventure on the Q.T. But after seeing her hot body and cool attitude in motion, he wants to keep a lot more than just his eye on her.... Problem number one is that she's his good buddy's sister. Family means a lot to Shay—he's the third generation to run O'Connor's. Little does he know, however, that Mallory already plans to bed him!
Dave gave her a rueful look and smoothed his ginger-colored moustache. "Sweetheart, there's nothing I'd like better than to give you screaming orgasms, but you've already hit your limit for the month." He studied the sheet in his hands. The sheet shook a little as Mallory piled her long dark hair on top of her head with her hands, tightening her skimpy blue sweater over her breasts. "You've only been a customer for four weeks," he protested. "You've only lived here for five. We can't extend your credit line until you've been with us longer. You know the rules."
Mallory had never come across a rule that couldn't be bent, especially when the person in a position to do the bending was a man. "We've been packed to the gills for the last two weeks," she said persuasively. "People drink. How am I supposed to have a bar called Bad Reputation without Screaming Orgasms?" She leveled a look at him. "You're my supplier, Dave. What am I supposed to do?" It was like bluffing in poker, she thought to herself. Stay cool and never act like it matters.
Dave tapped his fingers on the desk. "Business is that good, huh?"
"Business is great," Mallory said smugly, releasing her hair to fall back over her shoulders and trying to ignore the tension in her stomach muscles. "Newport's never seen anything like us before. But it's going to slow down in a hurry if I have to tell customers I can't make their drinks. Am I going to have to go somewhere else?" Come on, Dave, she thought, bite.
He hesitated, then nodded. "All right," he said decisively. "I'll extend your credit line for two weeks, but I need a good faith deposit of $500 today."
A slow smile bloomed over her face as she let out an imperceptible breath of relief. "No problem," she said lightly. "Cash do you?"
"Cash works for me. While we're making arrangements, let me tell you about the sweet deal I can cut you for your draft beer. We've just picked up the Sam Adams account."
"I'm all for sweet things, Dave," she said lazily.
"Tell me what you've got in mind."
* * *
It was one of those gorgeous indian summer days when the sky was so blue it hurt the eyes. Mallory drove her little truck along the Rhode Island back road, hauling a load of paper goods back to the bar that had become her life, and pondering Dave's deal. In eight months, when she turned thirty, she fully expected the bar to be ticking along like a cash machine. A far cry from her most recent gig in Lowell, Massachusetts, running a back street sports bar.
She tapped her fingers restlessly on the steering wheel. Then she reached out to punch a speed dial button on her cell phone, listening to the tone that indicated a phone ringing four states away.
"H'lo." The mumbled greeting sounded half asleep and wholly fogged.
She raised one eyebrow and gave a wicked grin. "This is the Newport Department of Health," she said, pitching her voice higher than her usual husky murmur. "I'm looking for Devlin Carson, partner of record in the Bad Reputation bar. We've had complaints of a salmonella outbreak in your kitchen."
* * *
"What?" Dev's brain was obviously still cobwebbed with sleep.
"Salmonella, Mr. Carson," Mallory said testily, enjoying herself. "Your customers have been leaving your establishment weaving and getting sick. We need you to appear to address the complaints."
"But I can't ... I live in Baltimore," he said in groggy confusion while she smothered a laugh.
"That's really not our problem, sir. We want answers and we want them now."
"But we don't even serve food. My sister Mallory is the managing partner. She'll ..." His voice trailed off. "Mal? That's you, isn't it?"
Mallory gave a delighted giggle. "Rise and shine, sleepyhead." She turned onto Route 38, headed for Newport. "What are you doing still in bed? I don't think I ever remember you sleeping in this late in my entire life."
"Oh, I went out with a couple of the guys last night and tied one on." He groaned. "God, my head."
"Paying the price, are we?"
"This is nothing." His voice was dry. "The price I pay will be when Melissa comes back from shopping with her sister and lays into me."
"For going out with your friends? Seems harmless enough to me."
"She wanted me to take her to dinner last night. I went out with the guys instead. It was Riley's birthday."
"It's not exactly like you're the world's biggest party animal. People go out once in a while. Tell her it's normal." Mallory searched for diplomacy. "I know she's gorgeous and you guys are engaged and all, Dev, but this isn't exactly sounding like premarital bliss. Are you sure she's the one?"
"When things are going right, I can't get enough of her. You just got a bad impression of her when you visited. She can get a little jealous," he said, and gave a creaking yawn Mallory could hear over the phone.
"I'm your sister. What's to be jealous of?" Mallory asked, mystified.
He laughed. "We went out and all the guys were looking at you."
"She's engaged to you. What does she care who the other guys are looking at?" Mallory's radar went up.
"Pride? I don't know. I just know she keeps track of stuff like that."
Mallory shook her head. She couldn't get around it, she didn't trust Melissa as far as she could throw her, however much Dev was hung up on her. "So, what, you go out with your friends and she worries that you're hanging out with loose women?"
"Christ, I got to get some aspirin here," Dev muttered. "I'm going cordless." The line clicked and turned fuzzy, and she could hear the thuds of his feet as he walked, presumably to find medication. "I don't know, maybe she has a right to be ticked. We're supposed to be getting married in five months. Maybe I should have gone out with her. Anyway, she's always telling me that you've got to give up things to make a relationship work."
That sounded like Melissa, Mallory thought. She'd grown wary of her brother's then-girlfriend the moment she'd found out Melissa was dragging him to couples counseling. Mallory sighed. "Yeah, well, make sure you don't compromise yourself into oblivion."
"I'm just trying to figure out how to do this stuff right. I mean, let's face it, it's not like we learned anything from our parents."
"Sure we did," she said without thinking. "Don't let anyone get too close to you or you'll be sorry."
"You're so tough," he mocked her gently. "Marriage doesn't have to be a bad thing when it's done right."
"Next you'll have me thinking we grew up in different houses. I know you're older than me so maybe you remember their bliss phase, but we both know how ugly it got." She sniffed derisively. "Might as well put a Kick Me Hard sign on your butt."
She heard a snap in the background followed by the sound of water running and guessed he'd found the bottle of pain reliever. "Okay," he said indistinctly, and sighed. "That's better. Anyway, you probably didn't call just to ruin my morning. What's going on?"
Excerpted from As Bad As Can Be by Kristin Hardy Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted December 9, 2008
Mallory Carson plans to make her establishment, Bad Reputation, a success by serving ¿Screaming Orgasms¿. She also figures having her barmaids dancing on the bar will encourage males to populate her tavern and spend plenty of money. Her brother Dave worries about his sister so he sends his buddy, Shay O'Connor, to check the joint out. However, Mallory and Shay end up making love, but he acts like it was nothing. Mallory is outraged because men don¿t leave her. Shay feels guilty for having sex with his pal's sister and though attracted plans no repeat. Mallory does not want Shay's interference about the way she runs Bad Reputation. When she learns who the best lover she ever had even with a one-night stand is, Mallory decides to teach her sibling and a man she could fall in love with a lesson on playing with a woman¿s affection. Mallory is the key to the fun AS BAD AS CAN BE as she uses her bad girl image as a defense mechanism to cloak her insecurities. Shay is the first male to penetrate (no pun intended even if this is a Blaze) her barriers. The secondary cast especially the wild B-girls add depth though Dave needs to chill out a bit. Fans desiring a torrid yet humorous romantic romp will appreciate Kristin Hardy's¿s engaging tale. Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2011
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